Full Course of Study Requirement
Length of Program of Study
Failure to Maintain Status and Termination of the SEVIS Record
Students in F-1 status:
International students are required by USCIS to enroll in and complete a full course of study each fall and spring semester. Please keep in mind that auditing a course does not count towards the minimum full-time enrollment at WSU. Also, only one distance education course may count towards the required enrollment each semester. If you are advised to drop a course, talk to an International Student Advisor FIRST. Full-time enrollment is defined as 12 hours for undergraduate students and 9 hours for graduate students, though some exceptions may exist:
Undergraduate students: Reduced Course Load authorizations are extremely rare. BEFORE enrolling in (or dropping down to) fewer than 12 credit hours for any reason, a student must first meet with an international student adviser. The adviser will determine if the student qualifies for an exception. If he/she qualifies, the student will be given a Reduced Course Load form that he/she will need to take to his/her academic adviser to be signed. The student will need to return the completed and signed form to the Office of International Education (OIE) before dropping below 12 hours. We are required by USCIS to terminate the SEVIS record of any student who drops below the required minimum number of hours without authorization, no exceptions. This means that a student cannot drop the course and then come to the GIC to request authorization; it will be too late and the student will be out of status.
Graduate students: While full-time enrollment is normally defined as nine credit hours for graduate students, some exceptions to this definition exist. The Full Course Load Certification form is available on our website or at the Garvey International Center. There are six reasons listed on the form, each with its own minimum enrollment requirement. If a student qualifies for any of the six reasons listed on the form and intends to enroll in fewer than nine credit hours, he/she must take the form to be signed by his/her academic adviser, and then return it to the OIE before enrolling in or dropping below fewer than nine credit hours. Failure to submit the Full Course Load Certification form before dropping below nine credit hours will result in the termination of the student’s SEVIS record.
Graduate students who do not qualify for one of the six reasons listed on the Full Course Load Certification form but intend to enroll in fewer than (or drop below) nine credit hours must schedule an appointment with an international student adviser to discuss the situation.
Each F-1 student is admitted to the U.S. for a certain length of time to complete his/her program of study. The program start and end dates are listed on Form I-20.
If a student will not complete his/her academic objective before the program end date, he/she must submit to the OIE a completed Request for I-20 Extension Form signed by the academic adviser well in advance of the I-20 end date. Graduate students who have already had two extensions will also need approval from the Graduate School. Students who submit the form after the expiration date are out of status and will be responsible for applying for reinstatement.
Current undergraduate students wanting to change their major(s)/minor(s) can submit a request by going to the MyClasses tab of their myWSU account. Once the Registrar’s Office approves the change, the OIE will be notified via email so that we can update the SEVIS record as required. Changes of major will result in the issuance of a new I-20; changes/additions of a secondary major or minor will be updated in SEVIS but will not result in the issuance of a new I-20. If a new I-20 is issued, you will be emailed at your WSU email address when the I-20 is available for pick-up.
Current graduate students wanting to change their program must contact the Graduate School.
Concurrent enrollment is allowed for F-1 students. While concurrently enrolled at another institution, the student must maintain a full course of study at WSU. If needed, a guest letter can be obtained from the OIE.
An F-1 student who is maintaining status may work 20 hours per week on campus while school is in session and 40 hours per week during breaks and the summer vacation. A student cannot continue on-campus employment after graduation except in the following situations: 1) student has employment authorized under OPT and will be working in their field of study; or 2) student has been issued an I-20 for a new program at WSU.
The two most common types of off-campus employment for F-1 students are Curricular Practical Training (CPT), which is done prior to graduation, and post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) which is done after graduation. Graduate students who have completed all coursework other than thesis or dissertation are also eligible for OPT.
An F-1 student who fails to follow Department of Homeland Security (DHS) / Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regulations is considered to be out of status. Falling out of status will result in termination of the student’s SEVIS record. Students who fall out of status are not eligible for any F-1 student benefits such as on-campus employment, practical training, and will not be able to obtain or renew their driver’s license. Immediate action should be taken to reestablish status. Out-of-status students will be allowed to enroll at WSU only after discussing options for reestablishing status with an International Student Advisor. Options include: